BILLS INTRODUCED AND CONSIDERED
A bill to prohibit the use by the Department of Veterans Affairs of funds to provide emergency assistance at the southern border of the United States resulting from the repeal of certain public health orders
The bill would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from using federal funds to provide emergency assistance in response to an emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border directly resulting from the repeal of Title 42.
Sponsored by Senator John Boozman (R-Arkansas) (11 cosponsors— 11 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
04/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Boozman
04/26/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
A bill to prohibit the Secretary of Health and Human Services from lessening the stringency of, and to prohibit the Secretary of Homeland Security from ceasing or lessening implementation of, the COVID-19 border health provisions through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic
Sponsored by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) (0 cosponsors)
04/26/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Cruz
04/26/2022 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under Read the First Time
04/27/2022 Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders
A bill to require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to perform an initial health screening on all detainees
Sponsored by Senator Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico) (2 cosponsors— 2 Democrats, 0 Republicans)
04/27/2022 Introduced in the Senate by Senator Lujan
04/27/2022 Referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
Securing Americans from Transportation Insanity Act
The bill would prohibit the use of federal funds to modify the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for sex-based security screenings, including requiring U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to use gender-neutral language and an individual’s self-identified pronouns or name.
Sponsored by Representative Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) (11 cosponsors— 11 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
04/21/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Boebert
04/21/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Homeland Security
Seasonal Worker Solidarity Act of 2022
The bill would reform the H-2B guest worker visa program to improve labor standards for guest workers, create a pathway to citizenship for guest workers and their families, and prevent U.S. workers from being passed over for seasonal job opportunities.
Sponsored by Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) (14 cosponsors— 14 Democrats, 0 Republicans)
04/21/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Castro
04/21/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
Western Hemisphere Nearshoring Act
The bill, among various other provisions, would grant authority to the President of the United States to initiate negotiations to obtain cooperation and trade agreements with all Latin American and Caribbean countries as a means to tackle the root causes of migration and become more competitive vis-à-vis China.
Sponsored by Representative Mark Green (R-Tennessee) (2 cosponsors— 1 Democrat, 1 Republican)
04/26/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Green
04/26/2022 Referred to the House Committees on Ways and Means and on Foreign Affairs
Securing the Border for Public Health Act of 2022
The bill would allow the Department of Homeland Security to suspend the entries of people and imports of designated countries as long as it justifies that the suspension would prevent the spread of communicable diseases.
Sponsored by Representative Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) (1 cosponsor— 1 Republican, 0 Democrats)
04/26/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Lesko
04/26/2022 Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce
To establish the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office within the Department of Homeland Security
Sponsored by Representative Jack Bergman (R-Michigan) (4 cosponsors— 4 Republicans, 0 Democrats)
04/27/2022 Introduced in the House by Representative Bergman
04/27/2022 Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary
LEGISLATIVE FLOOR CALENDAR
The U.S. Senate will be in session the week of Monday, May 2.
The U.S. House of Representatives will not be in session the week of Monday, May 2.
UPCOMING HEARINGS AND MARKUPS
Date: Tuesday, May 3, 2022, at 10:00 am E.T. (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs)
Location: 562 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at 2:30 pm E.T. (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs)
Location: 2141 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
Witnesses: The Honorable Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security
Date: Thursday, May 5, 2022, at 10:15 am E.T. (Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs)
Location: 106 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
THEMES IN WASHINGTON THIS WEEK
Biden Administration Outlines Plan to Address Increases in Migration After End of Title 42
On April 26, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a memorandum that outlines the Biden administration’s plan to manage and secure the southwest border if and when Title 42 restrictions are lifted as planned on May 23. Title 42 is a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have used since March 2020 to rapidly expel arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum.
The memorandum describes a six-pillar plan that details how the administration plans to address increases in migration. The first pillar is providing additional resources to the border, including personnel, transportation, medical support, and facilities to support border operations. Second, the plan describes efforts to enhance CBP’s processing efficiency to mitigate potential overcrowding at Border Patrol stations and expedite claims for protection made by arriving migrants. The plan also describes additional penalties for repeat border crossers and those attempting to evade detection, efforts to bolster the capacity of non-governmental partners, and enhanced actions to target and disrupt smugglers and transnational criminal organizations. The sixth and final pillar of the plan is a focus on continuing negotiations with Latin American and Caribbean countries to cooperate on migration management.
The memorandum concludes by highlighting that the United States’ outdated immigration system was not built to manage the current levels and types of
migratory flows that the country is experiencing. It urges Congress to pass legislation that would sustainably address the situation at the border.
Despite the release of the plan, the Biden administration continued to receive significant pushback on its decision to roll back Title 42 border restrictions by May 23, including from some moderate Senate Democrats.
White House Funding Request Includes Afghan Adjustment Act, Benefits for Ukrainian Parolees
On April 28, the Biden administration sent a $33 billion supplemental funding request to Congress to continue to address the ongoing fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to reports on April 29, the funding request includes provisions that would provide a pathway to permanent status to Afghan evacuees who have been resettled in the U.S. under parole and currently have no clear option to stay in the country. Veterans, faith leaders, and advocacy groups have been calling for the passage of provisions that would provide stability to Afghan parolees in the form of an adjustment act, which has been used in previous parole-based evacuations.
The supplemental funding request also reportedly includes provisions that would provide additional benefits to a growing number of Ukrainian parolees, who currently are only offered protection from deportation and the ability to apply for work authorization.
Secretary Mayorkas Testifies Before House Committees, Discusses Immigration Policies
On April 27 and 28, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas testified in three congressional hearings before different committees to discuss the Biden administration’s immigration policies. In his testimony, Secretary Mayorkas highlighted efforts to welcome Ukrainians and Afghans fleeing oppression and justified the administration’s Fiscal Year 2023 funding requests for programs throughout DHS.
Mayorkas also outlined the administration’s strategy to secure and manage America’s borders while building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system. Mayorkas noted that violence, food insecurity, poverty, and lack of economic opportunity in several countries in the Western Hemisphere are driving unprecedented levels of migration to the U.S.-Mexico border. He added that the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region has only exacerbated these challenges, while human smuggling organizations peddle misinformation to exploit vulnerable migrants for profit.
During the hearings, Secretary Mayorkas received significant criticism from Republican representatives, most of whom criticized the administration’s management of the southern border. Several House Republicans have raised the prospect of impeaching Secretary Mayorkas should they take the majority in 2023.
Bipartisan Group of Senators Relaunch Immigration Negotiations
On April 28, Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) met with Senators Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), Alex Padilla (D-California), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) to discuss possible bipartisan immigration reforms that could garner 60 votes, the minimum needed to overcome a filibuster in the Senate.
The senators said they discussed several topics, such as reform to the agriculture-based immigration system, changes for foreign workers stuck in the green card backlog, and protections for the more than 200,000 children who were brought into the U.S. legally, but are in danger of “aging out” of status at 21 and being forced to self-deport.
After the meeting, the participants stated that the negotiation was still in the early stages but expressed satisfaction with resuming immigration-related talks. Senator Padilla, who chairs the Judiciary Committee’s immigration panel, said the group plans to meet again next week, but nothing has been scheduled yet.
Biden Administration Launches U.S.-Honduras Strategic Dialogue in Effort to Tackle Root Causes of Migration
On April 26, the Biden administration and the Honduran government launched the United States-Honduras Strategic Dialogue to open channels of communication and cooperation between both countries. The dialogue — proposed by Vice President Harris to Honduras’s President Xiomara Castro — advances joint priorities to address the root causes of migration. Among its key elements, the dialogue focuses on economic recovery, and seeks to foster anti-corruption and good governance, improve human rights protections, reduce gender-based violence, provide Covid-19 vaccines and medical equipment, assist Hondurans in increasing their own border security, and ensure a humane management of irregular migration.
Supreme Court Holds Oral Arguments to Determine Whether the Biden Administration May End MPP
On April 26, the U.S. Supreme Court held oral arguments to determine whether the Biden administration may end Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as Remain in Mexico. The case, Biden v. Texas, brought by the states of Texas and Missouri, challenges the administration’s termination of MPP, arguing that according to statute the Biden administration — and each administration before it — is actually required to implement MPP as long as it does not have the capacity to physically detain all arriving migrants.
Soon after taking office, the Biden administration stopped enrollment in MPP, and it officially terminated the program in June 2021. However, on August 13, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the termination of MPP violated the APA. Hence, in compliance with court orders, the Biden administration resumed the implementation of MPP on December 6. On December 29, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to consider its arguments to end MPP after the Fifth Circuit rejected its appeal on December 14. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to the Biden administration’s petition on February 18.
The use of MPP at the border has been increasing, with over 1,400 initial enrollments documented in March alone, up from 896 in February.
US District Court in Louisiana Issues Temporary Restraining Order to Prevent Phase-Out of Title 42
On April 27, a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked the Biden administration from phasing out the implementation of Title 42. Title 42 — set to end on May 23 — is a pandemic-era order that both the Trump and Biden administrations have used since March 2020 to rapidly expel arriving migrants without providing them the opportunity to seek asylum.
The case Louisiana et al v. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention et al, stems from a lawsuit filed by Louisiana, Arizona, and Missouri that sought a temporary restraining order against any winding down of Title 42 before May 23. In their lawsuit, the states said there were indications that many migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador were already not being subjected to Title 42 expulsions, more than a month before the scheduled lifting of the order.
The Department of Homeland Security acknowledged in its response to the motion that it had begun processing some migrants from Central America — about 14 percent during a recent one-week stretch — under pre-pandemic guidelines. However, the agency said, the migrants were not necessarily being allowed to remain in the country, but were being placed in expedited removal proceedings under U.S. immigration law.
In that regard, a Louisiana federal judge issued a 14-day temporary restraining order blocking border authorities from phasing out Title 42 while the court continued to weigh the states’ arguments. In the order, the judge indicated he found the case against the administration compelling and appears poised to further delay the lifting of Title 42.
Texas and Arizona Challenge Biden Administration’s Rule on Asylum Processing at the Border
On April 28, Texas and Arizona asked courts to block a rule that would allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) asylum officers to adjudicate asylum applications of certain recent border-crossers, alleviating the immigration court case backlog and lessening the wait time for families to have their cases heard.
The rule also includes several changes that expedite the asylum application process and address some due process concerns for those placed into expedited removal proceedings. Under the rule, asylum seekers at the border who pass initial “credible fear interviews” are placed into a non-adversarial, timely asylum adjudication process conducted by USCIS asylum officers.
In the suit, the state of Texas argued that the promulgation of the asylum rule – which is set go into effect on May 31 — violates the Administrative Procedures Act. The suit further claims that the rule “upends the entire adjudicatory system to the benefit of aliens.”
State & Local
Tennessee Governor Signs into Law Bipartisan Bill that Allows DACA Recipients to Apply for Professional and Commercial Licenses
On April 26, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed into law a new bill that enables foreign nationals who have been granted either Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) or Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to obtain professional and commercial licenses as long as they meet all other requirements of the licensing board. The bipartisan amendment was approved by the Tennessee House (56-35) and the Tennessee Senate (20-7) and was transmitted to the Governor on April 22. The new law will allow approximately 7,000 DACA recipients and 3,000 TPS holders the ability to obtain professional licenses.
The act was passed to address labor shortages that have impacted nearly 50% of small business owners in Tennessee, who have been unable to fill job openings. Under the status quo, many DACA recipients and TPS holders who have been raised and educated in Tennessee have left for other states where they can legally obtain professional licenses. This bill will mean that non-U.S. citizens with work authorization will no longer need to leave the state to find employment.
Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure,” April 19, 2022
This report presents an overview of the elements, background, and countries currently designated for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED). TPS is a provision that allows the Department of Homeland Security to designate countries experiencing civil unrest, violence, or natural disasters to prevent the removal of nationals of such nations from the United States. As of February 16, 2021, approximately 354,625 foreign nationals from twelve countries who are living in the United States are protected by TPS. DED is a temporary, discretionary, administrative stay of removal granted to immigrants from designated countries. Unlike TPS, a DED designation emanates from the President’s constitutional powers to conduct foreign relations and has no statutory basis. Certain Liberians, Venezuelans, and residents of Hong Kong present in the United States currently maintain relief under DED.
Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS-OIG), “Violations of ICE Detention Standards at South Texas ICE Processing Center,” April 22, 2022
This OIG report highlights that the South Texas U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Processing Center in Pearsall, Texas, failed to meet ICE detention standards that compromised the health, safety, and rights of detainees. Particularly, it failed to meet standards for grievances, segregation, COVID-19 response, and communications with detainees.
SPOTLIGHT ON NATIONAL IMMIGRATION FORUM RESOURCES
This updated resource provides policy recommendations that would create more humane and efficient border processing, refocus on regional approaches that combat trafficking networks and address the root causes of migration, and enact practical border security fixes that address key remaining vulnerabilities.
This resource explains the elements of the Uniting for Ukraine program, launched by the Biden administration on April 21, to provide Ukrainian citizens who have fled Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression opportunities to come to the U.S.
This explainer provides more information about the Title 42 border policy, its impact on the border, and what will happen when the policy is lifted on May 23.
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*This Bulletin is not intended to be comprehensive. Please contact Arturo Castellanos-Canales, National Immigration Forum Policy and Advocacy Associate, with comments and suggestions of additional items to be included. Arturo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.